Survey: Most avoid senior care talk with parents

For the Daily Call

WALTHAM, Mass. — When it comes to the issue of care, the focus is frequently on child care. Yet, many families are also tackling an issue that isn’t as widely discussed and should be: senior care. The 2016 Senior Care Survey from (NYSE: CRCM, the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care, delves into the financial and emotional challenges today’s families face, the help they seek, and ultimately, reveals the misconceptions and expectations of senior care. The findings also show how families continue to struggle with talking openly about care needs with their aging parents.

“The trials and tribulations of child care are widely discussed and known,” said Jody Gastfriend, vice president of Senior Care at, “However, those issues are only part of the care challenges families face. Nearly half of U.S. adults in their 40s and 50s are already in the Sandwich Generation caring for a child and an aging parent. And with the number of people over the age of 65 set to nearly double by 2050, the emotional and financial weight of senior care is only going to intensify for families.”

• Senior Care Finances: Expectations and The Reality

Nearly 1/3 provide financial support to senior loved ones.

More than 29 percent of respondents financially support their parent(s) or aging loved one(s), with 1 in 3 saying they provide $5,000 or more per year. Up to 19 percent provide $10,000 or more per year, while two out of three (66 percent) say they give $1,000 or more to the senior in their life. Nearly one in five people (19 percent) consider themselves a senior care provider.

Families don’t know the true cost of senior care.

Whether it’s non-medical homecare or a nursing home, families underestimate the costs for senior care. 67 percent of those surveyed anticipate that maximum costs for full-time care in a nursing home would fall under $80,000 annually, and approximately 1 in 4 people (26 percent) think it costs half what it actually does! The reality? According to a Genworth survey on senior care costs, the national average cost for a nursing home starts at $82,125 and ranges up to $92,378. For non-medical home care, 57 percent believe it costs less than $40,000 per year while the national annualized average cost actually ranges from $45,760 to $46,332 for 44 hours per week. However, when it comes to adult day health care, people overestimate the expense, with 61 percent thinking it costs more than double the actual amount of $17,680 per year.

Despite worries, a majority aren’t budgeting or saving for their own senior care.

When it comes to their own senior care, people are unprepared for and uncertain of the future. 64 percent are not budgeting or saving for their own or their partner’s senior care and approximately 1 in 5 (21 percent) don’t know what senior care option they’d prefer for themselves. Yet, two-thirds (66 percent) worry about what senior care options will be available in the future. Alarmingly, more than half of baby boomers (53 percent) say they aren’t budgeting for their or their partner’s senior care.

“Raising awareness of the true costs of senior care is imperative for the financial health of families,” added Gastfriend. “In addition to underestimating the cost of senior care, the majority of families responding to our 2015 Cost of Care Survey also underestimate the cost of child care (63 percent). When you add in saving for retirement, the financial impact can be profound.”

• The Emotional Side of Senior Care

Parents would rather have the “sex talk” than take the keys away from aging parents.

While a majority of people (85 percent) believe they have a good grasp of their parent’s or aging loved one’s health, 52 percent haven’t discussed senior care issues with them. Their top reasons to avoid the talk include knowing their parent(s) or aging loved one(s) would react defensively (15 percent) and their own discomfort with the subject (20 percent). Talking about money, health, and end-of-life care is so uncomfortable that 54 percent would rather have the “sex talk” with their children than tackle a conversation about their aging parent not being able to drive anymore. But good news from those who have already broached the topic — 60 percent say the seniors in their life did not react defensively when asked about their health.

More than half don’t plan to talk about senior care until there’s a need.

More than 55 percent of people plan to discuss senior care issues with aging loved ones if/when a need arises, while only 30 percent plan on doing so beforehand. Those who have had the senior care talk say it was precipitated by a major medical incident, such as a bad fall or heart attack.

“We encourage families to proactively speak with the senior in their life about long-term care because when a health issue strikes unexpectedly, many families are unprepared for quick decisions,” said Gastfriend. “By talking about preferences and expectations before the need arises, families are in a better place to make informed decisions for the care of a loved one. Whether it’s consulting professionals to help explain your options, or researching information online, there are myriad resources available to help families navigate this sensitive, and, oftentimes, confusing topic.”

From anxiety to hope, discussing senior care issues alleviates worry.

Prior to broaching care issues with a senior loved one, respondents feel concerned (44 percent), anxious (35 percent), and nervous (28 percent). However, once adult children start the conversation, they ultimately feel informed (33 percent), hopeful (32 percent), and relieved (24 percent).

• Senior Care Preferences: Planning for the Future

Approximately one in three don’t know what seniors want.

The No. 1 thing people think is most important to the senior in their life is independence (42 percent), followed by health (23 percent) and comfort (23 percent). However, 31 percent don’t know what senior care option their parent(s) or aging loved one(s) prefer. That may be why 51 percent believe the senior in their life should take the lead on long-term senior care planning.

Living with an aging loved one is an option most would consider.

More than 72 percent of people would consider having their parent(s) or aging loved one(s) live with them as a long-term senior care option. In-home care from a relative is also one of the top three options people think aging loved ones would prefer.

• Senior Care In The Workplace

Senior care responsibilities impact employees and employers.

With the Sandwich Generation growing and nearly 70 percent dual-income households in the U.S., senior care responsibilities are understandably having an impact in the workplace. 36 percent have asked for time off or workplace flexibility to accommodate for senior care; 36 percent say worrying about aging loved ones has affected their performance at work; and 34 percent have made work adjustments as a result of caring for aging loved ones. Senior care responsibilities weigh so heavily on employees that nearly half (46 percent) say they would consider dropping out of the workforce to care for an ailing parent or loved one.

Senior care benefits matter when searching for a job.

More than 41 percent of people say their employer does not provide any programs or assistance for elder care but these programs are in demand, as 52 percent would research benefit options available for senior care-related issues if they were to consider a new job. Top three care-related benefits people would find most useful are assistance finding options for senior care issues (51 percent), subsidized back up care for emergencies (48 percent), and financial planning for senior care (46 percent).

“With today’s modern workforce consisting of two working parents who are ‘sandwiched’ caring for their own children and their aging parent, companies must recognize the need for benefits that serve both ends of the caregiving spectrum,” added Michael Marty, SVP and GM of Care@Work. “Offering workplace benefits like senior care advisory services or high-quality, urgent care for children and adults not only supports the wellbeing of employees and their families, but also helps employers increase loyalty, reduce turnover costs, and drive productivity.”

The 2016 Senior Care Survey captured responses from nearly 500 people in the United States during the month of April 2016. Respondents were recruited from

For the Daily Call